Quantcast Tech Addicts: July 2008 Archives

July 2008 Archives

ASUS is clearly dominating the ultra-mo bile notebook market with its Eee PCs. But local executives said that it will r emain a niche player in this ever-competitive market for notebooks. The photo features the Eee Box (left) which comes with a 16-inch LCD monitor, w hile to the right is the Eee PC 900, the first to have the Intel Atom processor, which has not ye t been introduced to the Philippines due to the availability of the Eee PC 1000 series. INQUIRER.net community evangelist Alexander Villafania talks to Asus Philippines Country Man ager Leon Yu who stressed that its latest Intel Atom-based ultra-mobile not ebooks will not compete with other brands using the same processor. "The market for ultramobile PC is huge and we're only targeting people who have specific needs. We don't have any problems with the other brands in the same m arket," Yu said. Yu, however, acknowledged that the Intel Atom-based ultra-mobile notebooks will boost demand for low-cost, low-power computers especially in the Philippines w here there is a huge segment for budget-conscious buyers eyeing their first com puters. So why are people going gaga over the new Eee PC and Eee Box? Here are the published specifications: The Eee PC 1000 incorporates several new features not seen in previous Eee PC m odels. Among these include the Atom N270 processor running at 1.6 Gigahertz (th e previous Eee PC 900 uses an Atom processor but was not introduced in the Phil ippines). It is also the first model to have Bluetooth connectivity and the new 802.11N Wifi antenna allowing for faster Internet connection. The Eee PC 1000 also has a standard 6-cell battery instead of the 3 or 4-cell b attery. This should make it last approximately 7 hours on idle or about 3 hours on active mode with all the wireless connectivity switched on. It has a 1 Giga byte memory and 80 Gb hard disk. The keyboard is also bigger at 95 percent making it more comfortable to use tha n previous generations of Eee PCs. The screen is also bigger at 10.2-inches and can render images up to 1 megapixel. Meanwhile, the company also introduced the Eee Box, a mini-desktop computer tha t uses the Atom 230 processor variety. It is just slightly bigger than the Eee PC 1000 but has nearly the same features, except for Bluetooth. Both the Eee PC 1000 and Eee Box use Windows XP Home operating system. The form er costs P29,900 while the latter costs P24,999 bundled with a 16-inch widescre en LCD monitor.

MotoROKR rocks softly

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By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.net MOTOR OLA is keen on making impressions last when designing their phones. This starte d a couple years ago when they introduced the ROKR, RAZR series and SLVER serie s. Then they started having partnerships with several audio hardware manufacturers to complement their strategy in the mobile phone business. Motorola focused so much on design that the accessories had to look as good as the phones. That's not a surprise considering that in a cutthroat business like the mobile phone-m usic player hybrid manufacturing, the one with the most fashionable design wins . The MotoROKR series maybe the brand's most prolific model as it caters to music enthusiasts. It competes directly with Sony Ericsson's Walkman series and the Nokia N series. The latest in the ROKR series is the E8 and is a huge departure from the previous designs, particularly the E6 and Z6 models. This time, Motor ola went back to the drawing board to create an entirely new ROKR, in the hopes of reigniting the enthusiasm for their music phones. At first glance, one might think the MotoROKR E8 is a new brand ; none of the basic designs of even Motorola's previous generation of "brick" m obile phones were integrated into the E8, save for the familiar âMâ logo of the company. In fact, the phone doesn't look like a phone when it's turned off or when it is in idle mode. It is totally black and the front part is covered in t empered glass. The sides are in navy blue chrome finish while the back is rubbe rized dark blue aluminum. It is quite visible even with such a dark color schem e because it is wider than most phones at 115 millimeters though it is thinner at 10.6 mm. Perhaps because of the use of tempered glass and the chrome finish, the unit is noticeably heavier at approximately 100 grams. It feels solid to t he touch and doesn't seem to have any moving parts inside. FastScroll and ModeShift An obvious design feature of the MotoROKR E8 is the semi-spheri cal navigator ring in the middle of the unit, as well as little nubs, like the ones used in Braille documents, lined up across its lower half. These nubs and the middle navigator (what Motorola calls FastScroll Navigator) actually hide a ll of the touch-sensitive controls of the phone, which appear as backlit letter s and numbers. Another feature is the ModeShift, which is just shifting the function of the ph one. In active mode, the user can do just about anything that can be done on a mobile phone, such as write text or multimedia messages, view files, play mobil e phone games, among other things. But with a press of a button (the lit music note on the left side), the phone becomes a handheld music player, which shows only the basic music functions (play, pause, next/previous song, shuffle and lo op). The other button functions become invisible and will become visible again when the Back button is pressed. But even with a supposed touch-sensitive keypad, a firm press is required on ea ch of the buttons and only a miniscule vibration indicates that a successful pr ess was made. This is a far cry from the tactile feel of pressing real buttons and it does require quite a learning curve. But once users get past the vibrati on indicator instead of the tactile feel, it becomes as easy as using an ordina ry phone. Music function And because it is a music phone, it should work as well or e ven better than its competitors in the same market. When the ModeShift transfor ms the E8's controls from phone to music player the screen's interface is also transformed and actually looks similar to the Apple iPod's iTunes user interfac e. It would be most certain that anyone who owns an E8 will have already owned an iPod so using the E8's music controls will be easy. As expected, the sound is superb when using its headset and what makes it bette r is that it uses a 3.5 mm standard stereo jack allowing for a variety of stere o headsets, including those with noise-canceling functions, to be plugged in. E ven when using the loudspeaker the MotoROKR E8's sound quality is not diminishe d. But because the speaker is a small slit it cannot go as loud as a Sony Erics son Walkman phone, like the W910i, which uses larger speaker drivers. Neverthel ess, the E8 speakers are powerful enough to be heard inside small spaces, such as cars. It is also good enough when using for phone calls (even the microphone can pick up the user's voice, provided it is situated directly in front). At 2 Gigabytes internal memory, the MotoROKR E8 can save an average of 1,000 so ngs in MP3 format. But it can triple its capacity by installing a 4 Gb microSD memory card. The bad part here is that the card has to be installed inside the unit and even with the card slot being placed just above the battery, the batte ry itself has to be removed from its compartment just to insert the small micro SD card. Nevertheless, the advantage of having a memory card inside the cover o f the phone is that it has less chance of being accidentally removed. Camera and other functions Of course, even as a music phone, the MotoROKR E8 features a 2-megabyte digital camera at the back, which takes basic but respectable photos. Incidentally, it doesn't have a flash but this may be because of the emphasis on this model's m usic player functions. Still, it wouldn't hurt to put in an extra flash. It also has an FM radio tuner but it has to be activated using a headset, which serves as its antenna. On the other hand, few actually ever use their phones' FM tuner if they already have loads of MP3s in their phones. The E8 also sports an A2DP Bluetooth connectivity that allows it to connect to other Bluetooth devices, including headsets with stereo control functions. It c an also transmit sound to Bluetooth loudspeakers and transfer various files als o via Bluetooth wireless technology. Cellular connectivity is through its quad-band GPRS/EDGE capability. Although i t doesn't have WiFi, it can still access the Internet via cellular networks. Th e company claims that it supports full HTML websites but the browser forcibly t ries to fit all of the content in a small screen, which causes some sites to lo ok tight. The sites are still functional but scrolling down large webpages can be daunting. Overall, the MotoROKR E8 is a sudden but welcome change in the ROKR phone famil y. Its revolutionary touch-screen keypad function is a potential hot seller esp ecially with users who are bored with the tactile feel of separate keys. It doe s require some getting used to but a little practice will do just the trick. So und is good but not as great as the competing models from Sony Ericsson. Anothe r good thing with the MotoROKR is its somewhat longer battery life, which can l ast up to two days without charging and while using its music functions.
By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines â Intel Atom, the much awaited ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) proce ssor, is making waves worldwide. However, it is just about to test the waters i n the Philippines, where a majority of portable PC buyers would want to spend a s little as possible. It was expected that the Atom, a low-power chip for basic computer requirements, will supply the budget-conscious PC market with low-cos t computers. So far, two brands have introduced Atom-powered notebook computers in the Phili ppines: MSI with its Wind and Acer's Aspire One. Both are currently being distr ibuted and both are priced much lower than their larger, more powerful counterp arts. Being low-energy devices mean that these cannot match the power of notebooks ba sed on Intel's other processors, including the Celeron and the recently-revived Pentium branded Dual Core processors. This is because the Intel Atom is aimed at a different market segment, which ha s not been addressed before. The Atom is made specifically for the UMPC market, where users want to carry around a device no heavier than 1 kilogram or no big ger than an actual 10-inch paper notebook. Of course, Intel wants to rename the concept and would rather want the market t o use the terms "netbooks" and "nettops" for computers that use their processor s. As explained by Intel Philippines Business Development Manager Jermyn Wong, the Intel Atom is targeted at Internet consumers, and not so much the Internet con tent makers. He emphasized on the Internet largely because of a trend among people to use th e Internet for a variety of applications like watching online videos, downloadi ng songs, online chat, voice communications, photo and video uploading, documen t editing, among others. Wong stressed that the Intel Atom will not replace any of their current low-end processors including the Celeron, since these are addressing a different marke t. "The Atom is distinguished by what Internet consumers want, which is online ser vices. For anything beyond these basic services users can turn to the more powe rful processor models,â Wong said. The Atom is 22 millimeters in size, or half that of a typical Intel processor. It is also powered down to consume only 2.5 watts of electricity. In comparison , a Celeron M processor can consume up to 30 watts. Yet despite its low power consumption feature, the Intel Atom can still pack a punch. Like its big brothers, it can still play and render high-definition vide os and sounds, play most casual online games and do some simple photo and video editing. And also because of its small size, the Intel Atom does not use too much space for the processor, giving laptop manufacturers more space to put in more other components. Small form factor notebooks can integrate solid state drives instea d of typical hard drives, more USB ports, WiFi and Bluetooth wireless connectiv ity. Instead of using Microsoft's current Windows Vista operating system, the Intel Atom is best used with either a Linux OS or Windows XP, whose support has been recently revived by the software firm to accommodate the UMPC market.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net QUEZO N City, Philippines -- There are few devices that make life easier to bear. Som e are heavily marketed but are totally useless. Others have become technology i cons with a cult following. Then there's the Flip. At first glance the Flip, a video recording device, does not call too much atte ntion to itself. It is the size of the most basic digital camera and weighs jus t as much. Its lens is at the front and the LCD is no bigger than 1.4 inches, d iagonally. The control buttons are bland. Only the large red âRecordâ button is most prominent. The power button is on one side and a sliding switch flips out a spring-loaded USB dongle. This is as basic as any device could get. But then, it is that basic design that makes the Flip a worthwhile device. This is one gadget that is purpose-built for the video-shooting buff and one that d eserves a lot of praise from video bloggers and digital home video enthusiasts. The USB dongle to its side can be plugged in to a PC and the device can be reco gnized as a USB storage device. There is no need for device drivers. Without fa ncy on-the-fly video setup, the Flip is just what its name truly makes it: with the flip of a finger, the device is on and the user can start taking videos. Created by startup electronics firm Pure Digital in 2006, the Flip has already earned a fan base, which other manufacturers of cheap digital cameras â and eve n the more established brands â would wish they had. It is so popular that it became a best selling electronic device in Amazon.com It is so easy to use that literally, a third grade student can take it out and start shooting videos. The Flip's appeal is largely on its ease-of-use: the only buttons available in this unit are the PLAY button on the left side, a DELETE button on the right, a nd the four-way D-pad that controls the audio, change of saved videos, and the red RECORD button. Only the single lens and the small speakers can be seen on t he front of the unit. The lens does not have optical zoom but it has a 4x optic al zoom. The device's basic model comes with a 1 gigabyte flash memory that can save up to a n hour of videos at 640x480 pixel resolution and at 30 frames per second, which is good enough for taking home videos. The videos are recorded as MPEG-4 files, which do not take too much space. It c an be easily edited or converted into other video format like DIVX, WMV and AVI . The Flip-recorded videos are not too grainy, even if they are recorded in low resolutions. Blowing the recorded videos to full screen will not show too much pixilation. This is largely because the 30-frame per second recording speed co mpensates for the pixilation (take note that some LCD TVs can only go as high a s 24-frames per second to run videos). Incidentally, the sound recording is quite decent, provided the subject is no f arther than four feet away. It does record periphery sound. But the user must h old the device near the subject to provide good audio pick up. Video clips can be transferred straight to a PC through a USB dongle that flips out of the device. The PC will recognize the device as a large capacity flash memory disc upon installation. No need for a software driver to make it run. Vi deos can be played right off the Flip or copied to a hard disk or even burned t o a blank CD or DVD. Because the Flip uses a small LCD screen and has no moving parts, battery consumption w ill not become an issue, even with just two AA batteries. However, it is recomm ended that no less than 2500 mAh batteries be used to ensure that the Flip woul d not run out of juice even after 40 minutes of recording. Despite its basic design the Flip also has its own accessories, such as underwa ter casings, tripod, and an attachment for a bicycle helmet. These are good acc essories that will definitely widen the usability and the camera shots you can do using the Flip. The Flip is a nice device. Unfortunately, the device I tested was never bought from the Philippines but was brought by my Canadian professor Kim Kierans who h as been using it to capture so-called âKodak moments.â According to her, the device cost around 100 US dollars (4,500 pesos), making i t a cheap alternative to the more expensive and overly high-tech video recordin g devices out there.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines -- Laptop manufacturing firms from Taiwan are trying to out do Asustek in the sub-notebook category. Some of them are trying to steer clear from being labeled "Eee PC wannabes" but far from being successful and that's what they really are. On the one hand, the Eee PC isn't the first in the market but it was the one th at truly set the standards with the sub-notebook genre with PC-like capabilitie s packed in a small frame. These features include wireless fidelity (wifi) supp ort, Bluetooth, and the ability to run a power-hungry operating system with an underpowered processor. It also uses a solid state drive â a thumb drive chip, if you will, that is embedded inside a device no bigger than a school notebook. A relatively obscure brand Blue and another color-competing brand RedFox are tr ying to seduce the Eee PC buyer with their own sub-notebook models. Both are kn own for making inexpensive laptops (RedFox also makes gaming desktop PCs) and a re more likely to have an edge in the same market as the Eee PC. The Blue H1 and the RedFox Wizbook have been somewhat "upgraded" to run better and faster than the previous Eee PC 701 model. However, given the release of th e relatively newer Eee PC 900, it seems that the H1 and the Wizbook might find it somewhat more difficult to compete with Asustek's baby. Design The Blue H1 has good design features. The upper shell is a smooth, shiny plasti c cover with a silver plastic bezel. Its battery sticks out a bit from below bu t only because it uses an extended battery. The extra bulk in the battery actua lly serves as a lateral foot that keeps the laptop's bottom raised. While some users might scoff at this awkward position, it serves a more utilitarian purpos e since it is meant for air to flow smoothly out of the bottom. On the right side (facing the laptop) are two USB ports placed slightly apart t o ensure that thick USB plugs would fit snugly, as well as the LAN port and mod em. The power button is also on the right side. Meanwhile, located on the left side of the Blue H1 are the VGA port power plug and the microphone and headset ports. A multi-card reader is somewhat hidden un derneath the lower part of the device, just below and slightly to the left of t he track pad. The RedFox Wizbook 800 looks bulkier even if this sub-notebook is supposed to b e in the same size category (the Wizbook also comes with a 10-inch model). But just like the Blue H1, the Wizbook also uses a smooth and shiny plastic shell t hat completely overlaps the inner part of the screen. The left side houses the VGA port, two USB ports, the multi-card reader, and headset plugs. The LAN port is at the back of the device, along with an extended battery, which is awkward ly sticking out of the back like a tongue. The right side only has a PCMCIA car d slot, which gives the Wizbook an edge over the H1. While the PCMCIA card is o ld, it still allows for expansion devices, such as extra four-port USB and even a 3G antenna card. Powering up the Wizbook also means pressing a tiny quarter-inch button on the u pper right side above the keyboard. Screen and keyboard If there are any specific design areas that one should consider about sub-noteb ooks, these are the keyboard and the screen. The Blue H1 has a 7-inch screen while the Wizbook sports a bigger 8-inch screen . Both can only provide up to 800 by 600 pixels, which is good enough if you li ke looking into small screens. At higher resolutions and the texts or images in the screen gets smaller, thus adding to the strain of looking at small screens . But the H1's 7-inch screen wastes a lot of space as it leaves nearly two inch es of nothing but plastic on either side of the screen, while the lower portion has two speakers that sound more mono than stereo. If only the Blue added an e xtra inch to their screen, it would have made the H1 look better. Nonetheless, both the Blue and the Wizbook share equally good backlighting for screens of their size and the backlighting strength can be adjusted through the operating system. The keyboard on both the H1 and Wizbook are small, almost the size of the one u sed by the Eee PC. They both share almost the same layout except for the âEnter â button â the one on the H1 takes up only two standard key spaces, while the W izbook eats up three. Although space is constrained in these sub-notebooks, having a bigger âEnterâ b utton has its advantages, especially when trying to enter URLs (web addresses) in Internet browsers. Personally, I'm sensitive with using touchpads and almost never use them largel y because they lack the tactile feel of a two-button mouse. But because these s ub-notebooks are designed for quick work, users are forced to make use of the t ouchpad. Not surprisingly, both the Wizbook 800 and the H1's touchpad work belo w par. The H1's keypad is the tiniest I've found in the sub-notebook space, bar ely two inches in width. The left-and-right buttons are also far off below the m and can barely be pressed. Thank goodness the double-tap feature of the H1âs touchpad works efficiently. On the other hand, the Wizbook's touchpad is bigger and the left-and-right butt on layout fits the width of the touchpad. The double tap feature works well but there is a mild sensitivity issue even at normal settings. Nevertheless, the s mall touchpad still does its job well. Connectivity Apart from the modem and LAN ports of the Wizbook 800 and the H1 (the Wizbook h as no modem, by the way) both devices also come with standard wireless connecti vity using WiFi. The factory settings have these wireless connectivity settings activated but they can be turned off through the operating system. While activ e, both devices serve their purpose well by finding available public WiFi hotsp ots to connect. Connection is a breeze, thanks to wireless connectivity applications that come with them. If these are not available, WiFi accessibility can still be set usin g the operating system, preferably Windows XP. Connecting to WiFi through the H1's Windows XP is easy but isn't as much as I c ould say for the Wizbook. It takes a bit of learning and doesn't always connect as it requires some manual inputting of proxy codes. However, when this is set up, the Wizbook could match the H1 in speed and distance. The biggest surprise for both the Wizbook 800 and the H1 are their lack of Blue tooth wireless connectivity. Sure, few people actually use the Bluetooth functi ons of their laptops but because the H1 and the Wizbook only have two USB ports each, a wireless connection for other devices could be very useful (the two US B ports can be for an external mouse and hard disk). But the H1 has as edge over the Wizbook: the Blue has a web camera while the Wi zbook doesn't. It's another surprise because users of these devices almost alwa ys use their webcam for chat. As explained by the product manager of Wizbook du ring one conversation, their product is targeted at a different market. Still, it would have helped if the Wizbook had a webcam. Performance testing Both the H1 and the Wizbook 800 can be installed with just about every kind of operating system that would run normally on a notebook computer. The Wizbook ha d a pre-installed Linux operating system while the H1 had Windows XP. Their sta rtup is just about 15 seconds though this could considerably get longer as more applications are installed. Of course, Windows XP is more familiar to most users so it's just logical to fo cus a bit more on the Linux-powered Wizbook 800. While software availability can be a problem, the Wizbook and other similar dev ices are built to be used for quick and easy document editing, browsing and cha t. Luckily, the Linux operating system in the Wizbook has pre-installed Firefox web browser and NeoShine Office (an open source alternative to Microsoft Offic e), which are more than enough to justify the use of a small notebook. The H1 o nly uses Windows XP Home, which means users have to install other applications to fully utilize its features. All other applications ran smooth on both the H1 and the Wizbook. However, beca use Windows has a lot more support, it can accommodate other file types for pla ying videos and audio. It was harder for the Wizbook to find applications that could run file types that is not familiar with in default settings. Incidentally, the battery life for both the H1 and the Wizbook is almost true t o what its packaging says. The Blue H1 could run for four hours at standard mod e (no peripherals attached, Wifi disabled), while the Wizbook could last three hours. But when both are attached with USB peripherals and WiFi is activated, t he battery is drained at half the time. However, both still last longer than on e hour (or at least two hours when other peripherals are removed and only the W iFi antenna is active) compared with other laptops. Blue H1 Via Esther 1.0 Gigahertz processor 1 Gigabyte DDR 7-inch WXGA LCD monitor (800x480 pixels) 40 Gb hard disk Built-in speakers 2 USB ports 10/100Mbps LAN 802.11 b/g wireless LAN Multicard reader, web camera Price: 16,995 pesos (Linux operating system), 21,995 pesos (Microsoft Windows XP Home) Red Fox Wizbook 800 AMD LX700, 400MHz 512 megabytes DDR 8-inch WXGA LCD (800x480) 20 Gb hard disk. Built-in speakers (downward firing) 2 USB ports 10/10Mbps LAN 802.11 b/g wireless LAN PCMCIA slot Multicard reader Price: 16,000 pesos

Mini with a punch

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By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net THE ASIAN brands were the first to start the subnotebook revolution but n ow that the market seems to be more acceptable, US brand HP wants a piece of th e action, and so they introduced the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC. Design There are certainly several aspects of the Mini-Note that other subnotebooks do n't have; one in particular is design. The Asus Eee PC, the Blue H1 and the Red Fox Wizbook didn't bother much regarding aesthetics so they left their own sub notebooks looking a lot like toys. HP put some effort with the design and easil y, the HP Mini-Note is a standout. Its body has an aluminum finish. The entire device, save for the screen area, is in metallic gray, which gives it a tough i ndustrial look. There are no other objects protruding from the body, though an extended battery could give it some bulk, especially when it is placed on top o f a desk. The Mini-Note has one of the sleekest designs yet in the subnotebook segment, m atched only by the Asus Eee PC's simplistic design. From afar, the Mini-Note lo oks like nothing more than an aluminum case for small paper notebooks. Even the ports and switches are neatly tucked in around the sides of the unit. Truth be told, it might actually look boring to some people. But that's where the borin g part ends. Keyboard, screen and speakers Upon opening up the unit, the very first things that the user will notice are t he larger LCD screen at 8.9 inches, the two speaker sets on either side of the screen, and the surprisingly normal-size keyboard, which covers just about the entire frame of the lower half of the unit. According to HP, the keyboard is ab out 92 percent the size of regular desktop keyboards. These features are not fo und in any of the subnotebooks from other brands. The keyboard is perhaps the most tactile of all the keyboards in the same categ ory. Because of its size, it becomes appealing to hardcore desktop users or tho se that have huge hands. In other subnotebooks the keys are 2/3 the size of reg ular keyboards, which makes it difficult for most people to type with. Likewise, the 8.9-inch screen is also particularly bright and can render images at around 1280x768 pixels, nearly as high as 15-inch LCD monitors. If that's not enough, the LCD is covered in clear glass, lessening the chances of damagin g the soft panel. There is a downside to the use of a glass cover though as it could reflect light coming from the front of the screen. Even when the backligh t is set to high, more powerful light sources can cause glare on the screen, wh ich can give migraine sufferers a bit of a headache. The speakers on either side of the screens are also a plus factor for getting a Mini-Note as these are the most powerful in this category. It is also one of the few subnotebooks that have the audio on either side of th e screen and taking up much of the space, thus avoiding empty and useless space . Connectivity and battery life The unit comes with two USB ports one on either side, a LAN port to the right s ide of the unit, an ExpressCard slot (one of the few subnotebooks to actually i ncorporate it), and an SD card reader just below the ExpressCard slot. It is already a given that the Mini-Note's LAN port can easily access the Internet via a LAN cable attached to an office network. Nevertheless, it is also incorporated with 802.11a/b/g wifi and Bluetooth conne ctivity. These can be toggled on or off either through the software or by a sli ding a switch on the front side. One slide will light up blue, indicating that Bluetooth is active, while an orange light means that its WiFi has been activat ed. Incidentally, the power button is also on the front side of the device and is also a sliding switch to match the design of the unit. However, not surprisingly, switching on wifi or Bluetooth will significantly dr ain the Mini-Note's three-cell battery. When used on standard mode (all connect ivity turned off, no USB attachments) the Mini-Note can stand for a minimum of one hour and 20 minutes. If external devices such as an external hard disk an d mouse are attached, the power is drained within 40 minutes. Same goes when al l connectivity functions are powered up, along with external peripherals. Of co urse this is understandable considering the Mini-Note is focused more on a nich e market of basic users than the power user. Perhaps the Mini-Note would have a longer battery life if its battery is the six-cell version. System performance A major surprise however, is the Mini-Note's speed. It's already a fact that a processor that runs faster than 1 gigahertz can operate fast. The same should h old true for the Mini-Note because it runs a Via C7 processor running at 1.2 GH z, in addition to a 2 GB RAM. However, the Mini-Note has a problem running an operating system, particularly Microsoft Windows Vista Business. It took a full one minute and 20 seconds for Windows Vista to appear. Here's a video I took. Indeed, Vista is a system hog so it's a disappointment that the company did not include the more outdated but less system-heavy Windows XP operating system. H P does have a reason though for not installing Windows XP primarily because Mic rosoft had announced that it is ramping down support for their previous Windows product. I was somewhat challenged by the idea of installing Windows XP on the test unit just to see if it would run, though my curiosity was not satisfied. Likewise, the Mini-Note (or is it Windows Vista?) has problems playing videos, particularly files encoded in .MOV and .AVI formats. Try watching a video on st reaming video sites on the Mini-Note and you'll see a significant lag, even wit h a broadband connection. Heat problem The most significant downside to having a Mini-Note is heat that becomes uncomf ortable and could become a concern the longer it operates. This is the first ti me that a subnotebook could heat up like this. Temperatures could rise up to 40 degrees Celsius, which is particularly h ot by computer standards. Curiously, it is known that some manufacturers overtl y use aluminum casings as part of their product designs to help reduce heat fro m inside a notebook body to be drawn out of the aerated side. I've sent an e-ma il to HP's headquarters in the US to ask about the heat problem though the comp any has not responded as of this writing. I would still give HP the benefit of the doubt regarding the heat issue as for sure, the company tested out the device before finally releasing it. Conclusion So far, HP seems able to match Asus in the subnotebook space, especially as it incorporated many design features on the Mini-Note not present in other brands. Noteworthy are the larger keyboard, a bigger and brighter LCD screen, better s tereo speakers, ExpressCard slot, and large hard disk drive (120 GB). However, its main flaw will be its slow processor and the heat, which becomes u ncomfortable -- scary even -- when used on a person's lap. It's also understandable that HP would not use Windows XP on the Mini-Note sinc e Microsoft announced that it will not support their old product in the future. It is curious, however, to note that HP did not even consider using an underpo wered Intel Celeron processor, which seems to be more stable than a Via process or, unless it was sure that a Via C7 1.2 Ghz processor can handle the processin g requirements of an OS like Windows Vista. Honestly, it is slow and is no diff erent from running Vista on an ordinary laptop. Perhaps the company just couldn't wait until Intel comes out with its Atom proc essor for machines similar to the Mini-Note and Eee PC. Perhaps it doesn't want to be beaten in the subnotebook market by Asus or any other brand. Or perhaps it's a calculated risk by HP to release a product like the Mini-Note to whet the appetite of the subnotebook market unt il it comes out with a better model in the future. Nevertheless, the Mini-Note will enjoy quite a buzz among mini-laptop enthusiasts. HP Mini-Note 2133 Processor: Via C7 1.2 Ghz Memory: 2 GB RAM Hard Disk: 120 GB hard disk space with integrated 4 GB solid state drive Sound and webcam: Two front-firing stereo speakers and webcam Connectivity: 802.11 a/b/g wifi, Bluetooth, LAN, 2 USB ports, SD card reader, ExpressCard port Software: Suse Linux or Microsoft Windows Vista Weight: 1.27 kilograms (2.8 lbs)
By Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net WHEN I heard about Sm art's all-in-one messaging service, dubbed Uzzap, I immediately downloaded the m obile and PC versions to test it. Here are my first impressions. I downloaded the mobile application first to run on my Blackberry 8320, which s upports Java mobile applications. I quickly found the application not compatibl e with my unit, although Smart has said in a press release that it can run on h andsets that support "high-end Java applications." I really don't know what tha t means. So I moved on to the PC-based application, which I used solely to register my m obile number. By the way, you need to download the PC application before you ca n start sending instant messages. First off, the Uzzap PC interface is similar to popular instant messaging syste ms but is not as intuitive as, say, Yahoo! Messenger. I believe they were think ing about the mobile handset as the main device for designing the Uzzap client for the PC. To start a conversation with one of your buddies in your Uzzap directory, you n eed to click the Options tab, and click on Send Message before you can start wr iting a message. Also, instead of windows popping out of the messaging client, Uzzap creates a tab within the client, which I hope get cluttered if you're cha tting with several people. So you need to adjust a bit to get used to Uzzap's i nterface. One concern I have is the "automatic buddy matching" feature, which "allows peo ple and numbers in the user's phonebook to be invited to connect via Uzzap, whe n triggered by the user." That quote came from Smart. But as I was chatting with Smart's public affair head Ramon Isberto (screenshot at the start of this article shows the actual IM with Isberto), I was alerted by someone, asking me to add him to his buddy list. So I complied, thinking he was also with Smart. Since he was also trying out Uzzap, the network alerted hi m about me using Uzzap (which I found a bit weird). He said, "It must have dete cted you automatically." Hmm. I thought users trigger the invitation to become buddies. But apparently, the automatic buddy matching feature detected my numbe r (which was also in his phonebook), which prompted him to confirm if we were b uddies. And when he said yes, that triggered an invitation to me, which I accep ted. I also played around with the virtual chatrooms. One thing I noticed is that I have to keep changing my username to a nickname of my choosing whenever I enter a new chatroom. So until I find a suitable phone to test Uzzap, I will end my quick first impre ssions here. Watch out for the test of the version on a mobile handset.

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